talking to a lot of ‘people’ lately about their love of theater.
And I’ve heard some incredible, touching stories that could make a Romanian weightlifter cry.
And then I’ve heard stories like this one:
A theater lover was seeing a revival of The King and Imany, many years ago. And . . . well . . . I think I should just let him tell the story in his own words:
Nothing pisses me off more than people who sing along with overtures or songs on stage. Immediately upon the down beat of the overture this gravel-voiced man behind me starts to hum loudly. I gave him a quick “shh” and turned back to my seat. He continued a few beats later and I shushed him again. On his third try I turned to face him and in a stage whisper said, “Will you please stop that awful singing?”
It was then that I realized I had told Richard Rodgers to shut up.
To his credit he apologized.
You know what my favorite part of that story is? It wasn’t that my new friend taught Dick some good theater-going habits. It wasn’t that even the Maestro of Musicals knew he was in the wrong! It was that Richard Rodgers hummed along to his own tunes. I mean, if the composer gets the songs stuck in his head, you’re on to something!
When we came up with the idea for BroadwaySpace.com’s “Broadway’s Next Big Star” contest, we knew we’d get some submissions from a few talented performers . . . but we had no idea we’d get THAT many!
Several hundred performers and performers-to-be from around the world (yep, there was even an entry from Estonia), submitted videos of themselves doing something “Broadway” (singing, dancing, or making a mash-up) in the hopes of winning the grand prize of getting flown to NYC, doing dinner and a show, and getting an audition with a hot-shot NYC casting director.
Somehow, Craig Burns from Telsey Casting, Bailey Hanks from Who-Doesn’t-Love-Them-Some-Bailey-Hanks, and I, narrowed the hundreds of entries down to 13 finalists. Add to that the two wild card spots we gave away to the two most-viewed videos, and that makes . . . The Final 15!
Check them out here (and check out the honorable mention/superlatives while you’re at it)!
When you’ve watched them all, vote for your favorite by 11:59 PM ET on Wed. April 7th! We’ve already had thousands of votes pour in since the first day the voting was announced, so it’s gonna be a close one. Your vote will count big time.
As I watched all of the entries, I couldn’t help but notice a few things that I thought deserved some special attention. So, I’m giving out some pre-award awards right here and now.
1. The “Holy Crap, High School Musicals Have Come A Long Way” Award
Check out the three camera shoot in Audrey Peeples’s “Gimme, Gimme”. And listen to those tracks. And is it just me, or is the costume actually period? (For my high school production of Anything Goes, I wore khakis from The Gap circa 1988). Man, it’s no wonder that Broadway audiences demand a lot from their $125. Look at what they are getting in their local high schools! I’ve heard rumors lately of high schools with bigger musical budgets than some Off-Broadway shows!
2. The “You Got To Work With Whom?” Award
When I was a Broadway-wannabe, the closest I could get to the stars was hanging out at the stage door and hoping to get a glimpse (I once asked 12-year-old Daisy Eagan for an autograph . . . our paths haven’t crossed since, but I’m sure they will someday, and boy will my face be red). Now, the incredible generosity of so many Broadway performers, combined with the many schools and classes in the city and around the country (Like Laura Bell Bundy and Paul Canaan’s Take It From The Top) , give young performers a chance to learn from the best. Check out Final 15er, Nicholas J. Oliveri, as his sings for the original “Gimme, Gimm-er,” Sutton Foster. And stay tuned to the very end, so you can hear Sutton compliment Nicholas and crack up the class.
3. The “Golden Age is Over” Award
This goes out to all of the finalists. Of the 15 songs sung by the finalists, only 4 were from musicals written before 1980 . And only 2 of those were written before 1970. These performers are not only the actors of tomorrow, they are also the audiences of tomorrow. And the days of our audiences wanting to see The King and I and Pal Joey and Fiddler are over.
4. The “How to Stand Out in the Clutter” Award
And last, but not least, Stewart Yu gets a nod, not for making it into the Final 15, but for knowing he wasn’t going to make it into the Final 15, and creating a video that will probably get him more views than many of the finalists! Stewart knows the rule by which we all must live: creativity cuts through clutter. I’ve pasted his video below.
Good luck to all of the finalists!
See them all here (and don’t forget the honorable mentions at the bottom). Make sure to cast your vote by Wed at 11:59!